Weed fiends in Colorado have a tax holiday today

Marijuana consumers were taking advantage of a tax holiday in Colorado on Wednesday, with some lining up early for doorbuster-style deals.

A quirk in state law led Colorado to suspend most taxes on recreational pot for one day, including a 10% sales tax on pot and a 15% excise tax on marijuana growers…

At the Grass Station near downtown Denver, a dozen shoppers were in line before doors opened.

“Lower prices are always better,” said Benjamin DelCarpio of Centennial, who was rewarded for standing in line with a 50% off coupon.

The tax break is happening because Colorado underestimated overall state tax collections last year. Under the state constitution, the accounting error triggers an automatic suspension of any new taxes – in this case, the recreational marijuana taxes voters approved in 2013…

Wednesday’s break came a day after Colorado made final its accounts for the fiscal year that ended in June.

The final tax numbers covered the first full fiscal year in which adults over 21 could legally buy both marijuana and alcohol.

Alcohol excise tax collections were up 2.4%, to about $42m. Marijuana-specific taxes came in at about $70m…The figures don’t include a statewide 2.9% sales tax.

The pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project lauded the sales tax holiday as “a much-deserved day off” for marijuana consumers, who carry a heavier tax burden than people who buy alcohol.

Conservative politicians are still holding their breath – and swearing they never inhaled. All that happens in states where weed is legal is that drug use drops, high school kids do not start showing up for class bearing bags of munchies, automobile accidents don’t increase – and the moon doesn’t start shining out the butt of a purple cow.

Fear-stricken fools will not relent. Folks with adult brains, respect for science and real education have to continue to fight to put politicians into elective office with sufficient ethics to avoid being beholden to priests, pundits and payoffs rooted in 19th Century belief systems.

This is how Texas schools encourage student interest in technology

encouraging science in Texas
Ahmed Mohamed wearing his NASA t-shirt – and handcuffs

Police in Texas have arrested a 14-year-old boy for building a clock. Ahmed Mohamed, who lives in Irving and has a keen interest in robotics and engineering, put the device together on Sunday night. When he took it to school the next day, he was pulled out of class, interviewed by police officers, and taken in handcuffs to juvenile detention, after being told by teachers that his creation looked like a bomb.

Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News that he showed his clock — a simple device, created from a circuit board and a power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front — to his engineering teacher first, who advised him not to show any other staff members at MacArthur High School. He originally kept it in his bag during English class, but his teacher heard it beep during the lesson — when Ahmed showed her his home-made clock at the end of class, she took it away from him. In sixth period, the school principal came for Ahmed with a police officer in tow, arresting him and marching him out of school. The schoolboy says he was interrogated by five officers, who asked why he was trying to make a bomb, and was threatened with expulsion by his Principal unless he made a written statement.

Irving police might still charge Ahmed with making a “hoax bomb.” Police spokesperson James McLellan said Ahmed “kept maintaining it was a clock” when he was brought in for interrogation, but that he offered “no broader explanation.” When asked by The Dallas Morning News what broader explanation Ahmed could have given for a clock that was actually a clock, McLellan said the creation “could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car.”…

What? You thought an understanding of simple logic was required of Texas coppers?

Many in the maker and tech community have already rallied around him. A hashtag — #IStandWithAhmed — rapidly rose to become one of Twitter’s top trending topics, and support has come from a number of sources, including a JPL engineer who offered Ahmed the chance to see a Mars rover whenever he wants. Ahmed’s father says his son “just wants to invent good things for mankind” — we can hope that the police reaction won’t dissuade the talented young creator from making good on his dream.

Bigots of every flavor in every state will immediately jump to defend the creeps who had this school kid arrested, who took part in his arrest and potential charges. It’s an automatic response – like crocodiles swarming when one raises the scent of blood to other lower-level creatures on the evolutionary scale.

Meanwhile, a kid who should have been encouraged for his interest in science and technology – and was aided by his science teacher who also sounds like he realized how many stupid people they both were surrounded by in a Texas high school. I hope Ahmed keeps on with his interests and studies. I hope he can ignore the thoughts and actions of the typical American ignoranus. It would be nice to see him realize his dreams and forget the nightmarish delusions of others.

#IStandWithAhmed

NASA says a warp drive looks more promising than ever

warp drive vehicle

The first steps towards interstellar travel have been taken, but the stars are very far away. Voyager 1 is about 17 light-hours distant from Earth and is traveling with a velocity of 0.006 percent of light speed, meaning it will take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. Fortunately, the elusive “warp drive” now appears to be evolving past difficulties with new theoretical advances and a NASA test rig under development to measure artificially generated warping of space-time.

The warp drive broke away from being a wholly fictional concept in 1994, when physicist Miguel Alcubierre suggested that faster-than-light (FTL) travel was possible if you remained still on a flat piece of spacetime inside a warp bubble that was made to move at superluminal velocity. Rather like a magic carpet. The main idea here is that, although no material objects can travel faster than light, there is no known upper speed to the ability of spacetime itself to expand and contract. The only real hint we have is that the minimum velocity of spacetime expansion during the period of cosmological inflation was about 30 million billion times the speed of light.

The warp effect uses gravitational effects to compress the spacetime in front of a spacecraft, then expand the spacetime behind it. The bit of spacetime within the warp bubble is flat, so that the spacecraft would float at zero-g along the wave of compressed and expanded spacetime. The net effect is rather like surfing, where you are nearly stationary with respect to the wave, but are traveling with the speed of the wave. Whereas many of the theoretical studies consider a warp bubble moving at ten times the speed of light, there is no known limit to the potential speed…

This sounds too easy, and in many ways, it is. Thus far, all superluminal warp drives require negative energy and pressure to form and maintain the warp bubble. Matter consistent with such properties does not exist in classical physics. While in quantum mechanics there are certain possibilities for negative energy phenomena, they generally do not seem well suited to generate the required warp bubble.

An additional problem is that a great deal of negative energy is required to initiate a warp bubble. For Alcubierre’s original model, it would take more negative energy than the total mass of the Universe to equip a small spacecraft to travel at ten times light speed. Fortunately, refinements to the model have resulted in the energy requirements reducing to the mass equivalent of a few hundred kilograms of matter with negative energy. Mind you, we don’t know how to get that quantity either, but it feels a more likely prospect.

Lots of interesting reading, far-reaching speculation, in this article. A fun read. Reflect if you might on how this might read in a hundred years…or more?